By Pauline Masson
Canceling an existing cell tower contract for what city officials said was a dispute regarding compliance and negotiating a new contract with the same firm brought a half-million dollars to Pacific and accolades to City Attorney Dan Vogel who is credited with negotiating the deal.
At the Jan. 21 meeting, aldermen approved a new contract between the city of Pacific and American Tower Asset Sub, LLC, for the cell tower that sits in a 50- by 50-foot fenced area atop Blackburn Park and carries six communication antennas.
Under the new agreement, two additional antennas could be added.
According to City Administrator Harold Selby, the city was operating under a cell tower contract that locked Pacific into a low amount of revenue.
Speaking at the Jan. 21 board meeting, Selby said someone recently offered to buy the lease for the tower and he negotiated a contract with a $100,000 up-front payment.
“But Dan (Vogel) said that was not enough,” Selby said.
Selby then found someone who would pay $200,000 for the lease, but Vogel again said the amount was too low.
Recently, Vogel secured a new lease contract — a 50-year agreement that extends until Dec. 31, 2063, which includes $505,000 to be paid on the delivery of the signed lease. Closing on the lease agreement was set for Jan. 31.
Under the new agreement, the tower company also will pay the city $5,000 a month for lease of the tower site.
Both parties agreed to wipe the slate clean, relieving the other of any obligations under the old lease.
The agreement includes the six antennas that are currently on the tower, including Sprint Spectrum, Nextel Communications, Cricket Communications, U. S. Cellular, T-Mobile and the Pacific Fire Protection District, which is charged no rent.
If the tower company adds new tenant antennas in the future, it would pay 15 percent of the compensation it receives or $400 a month, whichever is greater.
The agreement only allows for the addition of two additional tenants. In order to add more, the lease agreement would have to be renegotiated.
Following unanimous approval of the new agreement, Alderman Mike Bates said special recognition should be given to Vogel for his work on the agreement.
“Repeatedly, people ask, ‘Why do you guys keep that expensive attorney?’” Bates said. “This is why.”
Mayor Herb Adams created a bit of stir when he asked aldermen to apply all but $10,000 of the windfall to the city’s contingency fund. He wanted to use the $10,000 for a study to develop and build a community center.
When other aldermen began to ask for small portions of the fund for special projects, Alderman Ed Gass made a motion to place the entire amount in the contingency fund. That motion was unanimously approved.